Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Rise of Mercenary Guy

On November 5th of this year, I officially created a character named 'Mercenary Guy.'

Because that's the kind of quality creativity one can expect from an M.J. Fifield story.

Just kidding. Well, maybe just kidding. I suppose the jury's still out on that one.

Anyway, Mercenary Guy came about because of a pair of comments from a pair of Effigy beta readers in 2012. (I have NEVER been accused of rushing anything.)  Each of them expressed a desire for a certain character's (sorry...trying to avoid spoilers where possible) horrible painful death. I was okay with this because this certain character is one that people are supposed to hate. He's not a villain that you're supposed to like in any way, shape, or form. He's not Loki.

Source

This certain character is an evil jackass who deserves to have a piano as well as every other instrument ever made dropped onto his head. Twice. And then twice more, just for good measure.

And because of this, I had made plans to have Karma come and bite this character right in the ass in Effigy's sequel, Second Nature. The comments from my betas didn't change this. What they did change, however, was the manner in which I intended to see it done.

While I am not a complete pantser these days, I'm not a complete plotter either, and so I had only the barest of outlines for a karmic payback scene in mind, but still, it was a plan that involved two certain characters being in a certain place, and all of a sudden, one of them wasn't going to be there anymore.

The change, I think, is quite good. Or, it could be. It'll lead to a very important catharsis for a central character who really needs a catharsis in this book. It's kind of awesome. Or, rather, it could be kind of awesome provided I don't royally screw it up. And since that scene isn't yet complete (and possibly never will be, knowing me the way I do),  I suppose the jury's still out on that, too.

But the change, as potentially awesome as it might be, left a big, gaping, black hole right smack dab in the middle of Lineage (part two of Second Nature), and I needed someone to help fill it.

So I went through the roster of available characters looking for someone to take the place of that one certain character. Second Nature is an epic-ish fantasy (sorry...I'm uncomfortable with labeling this as 'epic'...feels boastful) and, as such, has a large cast of characters. Not Song of Ice and Fire large, but there are still a fair amount of characters—and all of them, every single last one, had a prior engagement and no real reason to be where I needed them to be.

So I thought about it for a while. A long while. Hit the fast forward button (Finally, I know!) until we come to November 5th, and the birth of Mercenary Guy.

Hey, look what someone (not me) made!
Source
He started out as just an experiment. I didn't know if he would suit my needs, but as one of the tenets of NaNoWriMo is to (to paraphrase Dory) 'just keep writing,' and I was short a whole bunch of words, I decided to just jump in and see where I landed.

When I write, I generally create dialogue first, then go back and layer in setting and action and whatever else needs to be added. Almost every single scene I've ever written began with two or three lines of dialogue. I'm just a dialogue girl, I guess, and in the first scene I wrote for Mercenary Guy, it only took about five lines of dialogue between him and Second Nature's main character for me to decide that I really liked this guy.

So I think I landed in a pretty good place. I think he just might work out. Which is nice because I do love to fill plot holes. Besides, I like him.

And that statement is pretty weird because (a) I still don't know everything about him and (b) I do know a lot of the horrible things he's going to do. It leaves me feeling conflicted—but that's another post for another day.

Here's what I do know about him:

Mercenary Guy is a man of mystery. Known as The Black Wolf in professional circles, he's the man you call when you need something done (wow...how lame was that statement? Another example of the quality writing found in an M.J. Fifield creation!), but not something like cleaning out your gutters or painting your house. He's the man you call when you want to overthrow a sitting king—or queen, as the case may be. Need to obtain the impossible? Call Mercenary Guy. Sherlock would call him a consulting criminal. The men in Shawshank would call him a man who knows how to get things. Anything.

And while his rates are high, the quality of work is, too, so you can rest assured that if Mercenary Guy takes on your job, you will get what you want. Morals aren't a concern, so there is no line that Mercenary Guy will not cross to make your most evilest of dreams come true.

Moriarty is not impressed.

He is brilliant, cold, calculating, cruel, terminally amused, and a shade sarcastic (but of course he is. I wrote him). It turns out that I like writing this character quite a lot. Which is why Mercenary Guy—who was slated to burn brilliantly but briefly in Lineage and die in a sure-to-be-exciting sword fight or something like that—got himself a lovely stay of execution instead. Considering I still need the sure-to-be-exciting sword fight, and considering Mercenary Guy still needs to (just barely) lose this fight, I don't know how that's going to be possible yet (maybe Sherlock series three will provide some inspiration?), but I feel like he's too fun a character to kill off at this point, and I want to have him available for future storytelling purposes. I'll just have to make it work.

But it's open season on every other character. Well, maybe not every other character. But definitely some that readers wouldn't expect.

And there I go again—getting ahead of myself. I guess the point is that Mercenary Guy is another example of how very little I am actually in charge when it comes to my characters and the writing of this series. Even though I strive for the opposite, my characters always just come in and take over. They scoff at my calendars and storyboards and just do whatever they want.

And I let them. Because—for the most part anyway—I think they know best. But know this, Mercenary Guy: if you outlive your usefulness, I will end you.

And now I shall end this post because it's gone on for a very long time now and has been, quite possibly, the most boring thing you've ever read (assuming you've even made it this far—and if you have, thank you). So I thought about closing out this post with a snippet from the first scene I wrote for him, that conversation between him and the MC. I combed over this scene and dismissed posting the vast majority of it because it was too spoiler-y. So below is what I finally decided on. It's not overly long (unlike this post, I know) and doesn't even tell you Mercenary Guy's true name (though he does have one. More than one, actually), but it's still a first draft and it still cracks me up to see things like 'Mercenary Guy drank some wine.' I'll fix it later...

Probably.

***

"You're going to be sorry," Cate said.

Mercenary Guy drank some wine. "I'm going to be rich."

"And that's your guiding star?"

"Easier than morals, I find." He looked at her for a moment, then sighed. "But despite my better judgment, I do like you, my lady, so please allow me to offer you some advice."

"Never hit a man with a closed fist? Never get involved in a land war in Asia? Never wear white after Labor Day?"

Mercenary Guy's mouth quirked with another smile. "Give them what they want," he said. "Now. Or yesterday, even, if you can find a way to accomplish that."

"Angling for a bonus, are we?"

"Angling to avoid doing to you what I'm going to do."

"Well, thanks for the concern, but I'm not very inclined to do you any favors."

"The favor would not be for me," Mercenary Guy said.


***

So thank you for stopping by today and slogging through this monster post. It's much appreciated. And, as always, I'll try to do better the next time. Until then, take care, everyone.

Cheers!

39 comments:

  1. You could call him MG for short. :) And I love when characters take over or appear out of nowhere - happened to me during NaNo. Keep having fun with it. Maybe MG could get a few stories or novellas of his own?

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    1. I was just thinking that, actually. About the short stories/novellas. They'll be a long time coming, probably, but they're a definite possibility.

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  2. Mercenary Guy: Getting things done since November 2013.

    This is just the kind of character I love to read. (And surprisingly, even before I found out he was sarcastic. You had me at "terminally amused.") I'm glad you're not killing him off right away; he's the type who warrants a recurring role, at least for now...

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    1. I think so, too. I have no idea what I'm going to do with him exactly, but he'll be fun to have around.

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  3. FINALLY! I saw this post on my feed reader yesterday and was so excited I clicked through to comment & it wasn't ACTUALLY there. I felt like I'd gotten to see Santa gifts early. I forget what I wanted to say, though, other than that I really like the sound of this character & wondered if this was the guy you were considering giving a 500-word name to hit the NaNo wordcount :P

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    1. Yeah, I accidentally hit 'publish' yesterday when I meant to hit 'save'...I didn't think anyone would notice.

      This is that guy. And it was a 8,000 word name. (I was really far behind.)

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    2. I just happened to be looking at my reader when it magically appeared, like Santa gifts appear under the tree. MAGIC.

      Well, you finished, 8,000 word name or not.

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    3. I did finish (still not sure how that happened), and Mercenary Guy only needed two two word names to get that done. Well, three, if you include 'Mercenary Guy.'

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  4. From this post, I feel like Mercenary Guy will need a ballad (OMG you have no idea how long it took me to spell that. Spell check kept giving me the middle finger) to immortalize his role in your story.

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    1. Mercenary Guy does need a ballad. How ever did I not realize that until this moment?

      Looks like it's time to break out my song writing skills.

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  5. Ah, Mercenary Guy, how I love you so already.
    Why do I love the bad boys so damn much?
    But, hey, you keep writing about him and I'll eventually get to read about him. See how this works?
    Keep writing! Heather

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    1. The writing part is going...well, I guess it's going all right. It's the publishing part that keeps tripping me up.

      But maybe someday.

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    2. It's going to happen.
      It's going to happen.
      It's going to happen.

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  6. It's awesome when you solve a plot problem by creating something, and it turns out really great and ends up changing the whole story. Congrats!

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    1. Thanks, Lexa. I, too, find it awesome when that happens. A little scary at times, but overall, quite awesome.

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  7. You should be so proud of yourself and your written work, because you managed to make all your beta reader feel the same kind of loathing for the same character. When they start to feel angry at a character, your writing is touching them on an emotional level. Great job! Keeping up the awesome work.

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    1. Thank you, Murees. That's a lovely, warm fuzzy thought. I appreciate it.

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  8. He sounds like a great character - you've fleshed him out really well, so he's obviously taken up a secure residence in your head :-)

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    1. He really has. I think my other characters are starting to get jealous. =)

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  9. It's great when things pop out that you don't expect. It means the muse is working on some unconscious level.

    I can't wait to read your novel. And Mercenary Guy.

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    1. Glad to know the muse is working somewhere. Some days, though, I wish she'd be more obvious about it. =)

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  10. As long as he eventually dispatches You-Know-Who and gives him a long, painful death, you can call him anything you like. But, yeah, his final character name should maintain the initials M.G.. :D

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    1. Well, Mercenary Guy doesn't dispatch You-Know-Who, but someone does. Or will, rather.

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  11. Ooh, sounds like a great character!

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  12. Building a great villain is certainly a worthy endeavor.

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    1. I hope that's what I've ended up doing.

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  13. I like this guy. Wouldn't want to talk to him, but I like him!

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    1. I wouldn't want to talk to him either, or be anywhere near him. I'll just have to admire him from afar.

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  14. I think I know what the "M" stands for. It's Marvin. Definitely Marvin.

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  15. Ooh, I'm intrigued by Mercenary Guy already. No wonder you enjoy writing for him!

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    1. Yeah, no morals means no filter so he gets to say a whole host of wild and crazy things. It's fun.

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  16. I want a Mercenary Guy tee shirt even more now! Thanks for the peek!

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    1. I want one, too. I really should look into having some made.

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  17. Hmm, Mercenary Guy looks like fun - to write :)

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  18. He sounds like a really great character.

    www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

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